Thursday, March 2, 2006

A New Talent

Today I determined I was going to learn a new skill. A kitchen skill. Today I turned my attention to a daunting little pastry staple- Pate A Choux. For those who may not entirely be familiar with Pate a choux, it has another term, or discription to be exact. Choux Paste is also known as the shell upon which a decandent cream puff is made. The shell which is filled with mounds of heavenly whipped cream and bought at county fairs across the country. The shell, which when made into a log shape is topped with chocolate and called an eclair. And today I met Pate A Choux head on, ready to be challenged.

My first step was to find a method or a recipe. I turned to the genius minds on FoodTV. Certainly someone like Jacque Torres or Gale Gand would have a foolproof recipe for Choux Paste. I was right. A search on FoodTV's website turned up several recipes, but I immediately became alarmed. Most were labeled as "Expert" recipes. I read through several, and then turned to a trusted friend in the kitchen. The Joy Of Cooking. Ah. Joy. I read the procedure several times to be certain I understood every step, every precise indicator. And then I proceeded. The dough started to come together very quickly. And before I knew it I was beating in eggs one by one, wondering to myself- "When does this get tricky?" The next step was the piping bag, and I carefully plopped 24 little mounds onto my baking sheet, smoothing the tops with a wet finger. Again- "Where is the difficulty here? What am I missing in this expert recipe?"

The baking process was a little more hands on. The first baking is 15 minutes at 400 degrees, to get the little buggers nice and puffy. Then another 15 minutes at 350 to lightly brown the puffs. The interesting step came next. I turned the oven off and pulled the pan out. Next I proceeded to flip each puff over, and using a paring knife, pierced each individual golden puff. Back into the oven for another 10 minutes, and then to the cooling rack. A little bit of chocolate bavarian cream and some powdered sugar, and this is what I ended up with:

I'm still trying to figure out where the difficult part was. These things are incredibly deceptive. They are quite simple to make, provided you have a little time on your hands. These Choux Puffs are perfect. They are perfectly full of air, so they can easily be filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, or split in half and filled with ice cream. These are definitely an impressive thing to make, and will get many repeats here. Imagine surprising guests with homemade cream puffs, eclairs, or profiteroles. They will think you slaved all day in the kitchen, and only you and I know better. Anyway, here is the recipe and method I used, courtesy of The Joy of Cooking.

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